- 19-year-old arrested in Devon over Manchester attack
- Greater Manchester police begins review of murder and rape convictions obtained using forensic firm
- Victim, currently serving time for affray, demands compensation
- His lawyer demands public inquiry. Scores of other cases could now be reopened
A DNA blunder led to a teenager spending three months behind bars after he was accused of rape in a city he had never even visited.
Adam Scott, from Truro, Cornwall, was charged with attacking a woman in a park in Manchester, after his DNA sample was mixed with that of the attacker’s that had been taken from the victim.
He had provided the swab in connection with an unrelated crime that was also being processed at a laboratory run by LGC Forensics.
The company, based in Teddington, south-west London, is one of three forensic firms in the UK used specifically for DNA crime-scene testing.
It handles tens of thousands of samples for police forces across the country – and this cross-contamination could now see many cases having to be reopened.
Mr Scott’s lawyer has called for a public inquiry.
- New York State Set to Add All Convict DNA to Its Database (New York Times, Mar 13, 2012):
ALBANY — New York is poised to establish one of the most expansive DNA databases in the nation, requiring people convicted of everything from fare beating to first-degree murder to provide samples of their DNA to the state.
On Tuesday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and state lawmakers were putting the finishing touches on a deal to establish a so-called all-crimes DNA database, a move that is supported by all of the state’s 62 district attorneys and 58 sheriffs, as well as 400 police chiefs. New York already collects DNA from convicted felons and some people convicted of misdemeanors, but prosecutors say collecting DNA from all people convicted of misdemeanors will help them identify suspects of more violent crimes, and, in some cases, exonerate people wrongly accused.
“Every single time we’ve expanded the DNA database, we have shown how effective it is in convicting people who commit crimes, and we’ve also shown that it can be used to exonerate the innocent,” said Richard M. Aborn, the president of the Citizens Crime Commission.
Britain’s surveillance culture has been expanded out of all proportion to any threats we face – and it’s getting worse, says Alex Deane, director of Big Brother Watch and former chief of staff to David Cameron.
Even when Thatcher’s ministers were being pulled from the rubble of the Grand Hotel in Brighton, we never allowed threats to distort our way of life. Now, we let accusations of dog fouling and fiddling school catchment areas to justify unprecedented snooping. We face the prospect of improving technology allowing the state to monitor us in every moment of our lives.
DNA profiles of over a million innocent people are still on the national database, and despite all promises to the contrary such records are still being added.
Local councils authorise themselves to mount covert surveillance of residents under powers meant for serious crimes and terrorism – to catch people putting bins out at the wrong time, for dog fouling, breaking the smoking ban, littering, noise nuisance. It’s entirely out of proportion; the cure is worse than the disease. Innocent victims have no right to know that they were watched, so it’s not scaremongering, but simply stating the obvious, to say it could have happened to you.
Council-run CCTV cameras have trebled in the last ten years. We’re the only country that’s gone so far down this path: the Shetland Islands have more CCTV cameras than San Francisco’s Police Department. The capture and retention of the images of innocent people without their consent is now de rigueur. ‘Nothing to hide, nothing to fear’ we’re told – but the reverse should apply in a free society. If you have done nothing wrong, why should the state record your whereabouts and what you’re doing?
State says blood specimens were sent for research that will help identify missing persons.
An Austin lawyer threatened to pursue a new federal lawsuit Monday after learning that some newborn blood samples in Texas went to the U.S. military for potential use in a database for law enforcement purposes.
The Department of State Health Services never mentioned the database to Jim Harrington, director of the Texas Civil Rights Project, who settled a lawsuit in December with the state over the indefinite storage of newborn blood without parental consent, or to the American-Statesman, which first reported on the little-known blood storage practice last spring. Harrington said he thought another suit was likely unless the health department destroys the information obtained from the blood samples or obtains consent.
“This is the worst case of bad faith I have dealt with as a lawyer,” he said Monday. Continue reading »
Lock up your kids and lock down your PC’s
France yesterday put in its bid for an unlikely prize, becoming the first western country to make even Australia look liberal when it comes to state powers of internet censorship.
In the teeth of fierce opposition both inside and outside parliament, the National Assembly approved, by 312 votes to 214 against, a first reading of a bill on Internal Security – the quaintly titled “LOPPSI 2″.
LOPPSI – otherwise known as Loi d’Orientation et de Programmation pour la SÈcuritÈ IntÈrieure (pdf)- is a ragbag of measures designed to make France a safer place. Like similar UK legislation – most notably the various Criminal Justice acts brought in over the last decade – LOPPSI brings together a number of apparently unrelated proposals which would severely restrict individual rights in all walks of life.
Last week, for instance, the Assembly agreed to include within the new law a measure that would allow Prefects to sign off on a curfew for children aged under 13, out unaccompanied between the hours of 11 pm and 6 am.
The bill also includes measures that would increase police spend on “security”, create additional penalties for counterfeiting and ID theft, increase CCTV surveillance, and widen access to the Police DNA database.
However, it is in the online area that some of the most radical proposals are to be found, with the criminalisation of online ID theft, provision for the police to tap online connections in the course of investigations, and most controversially of all, allowing the state to order ISPs to block (filter) specific internet URLs according to ministerial diktat.
It has also been suggested that the state should have the right to plant covert trojans to monitor individual PC usage.
Whilst the latter measures are put forward on the grounds of child protection, critics have been quick to point out that, in the absence of any judicial oversight mechanism, this is a power just waiting to be abused. Continue reading »
Tags: Big Brother, CCTV, Censorship, Children, Computer, DNA, DNA database, France, Freedom, Global News, Government, Internet, Law, New World Order, Police, Police State, Politics, Society, Surveillance
Many parents ask why they are saving the samples
AUSTIN (KXAN) – When Andrea Beleno was expecting her first child, she never dreamed his blood would become the focus of a federal lawsuit.
Neither did the other families who are suing the State of Texas to protect the medical privacy of their children.
Each year, more than 400,000 babies are born in Texas. State law mandates that before newborns leave the hospital, his or her heel will be pricked and five drops of blood are collected.
Two weeks later, their pediatrician collects another five drops of blood. The blood cards are submitted to the Texas Department of State Health Services as part of the Newborn Screening program. One or two drops are used to screen for a list of serious medical conditions.
The parents are not objecting to the screening. They object to what the state is doing with the leftover blood samples.
Beginning in 2002, the State began saving the leftover specimens, unbeknownst to parents and without their consent.
“It made me really mad that nobody asked me if they could keep my sons DNA,” said Andrea Beleno.
Her son’s DNA was among millions of banked samples stored at Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health.
“It makes me suspicious and I think there’s really no reason for the state to have a database of the blood of and the DNA of every single person who has been born here,” said Beleno. “There’s no legitimate reason for that.”
Tories last night attacked reported Government plans to charge innocent people a £200 fee to apply to have their names removed from the national DNA database.
Innocent: Police are arresting people in order to get their DNA details on the national database
Police are arresting innocent people in order to get their hands on as many DNA samples as possible, senior Government advisers revealed last night.
The Human Genetics Commission said the Big Brother tactic was creating a ‘spiral of suspicion’ among the public.
The panel – which contains some of Britain’s leading scientists and academics – said officers should no longer routinely take samples at the point of arresting a suspect.
They also called for all police – including support staff – to place their own DNA on the national database in a show of solidarity with a public being routinely placed under suspicion.
By law, officers are only allowed to make an arrest if they have ‘ reasonable suspicion’ that a person has committed a crime.
But the HGC, which has carried out a lengthy review of the merits of the database, said evidence had emerged of police arresting people purely so they could take their DNA.
Its chairman, Professor Jonathan Montgomery, said: ‘People are arrested in order to retain DNA information that might not have been arrested in other circumstances.’
The claim, which was backed by evidence from a senior police officer, delivers a significant blow to the Government’s defence of the database – which contains more than 5.6million samples.
Campaigners have long feared officers were carrying out mass sweeps of the population to load their samples on the database, and make future crime fighting easier.
The result is one million entirely innocent people having their genetic details logged by the state.
Exchange “criminals” with “governments”.
The FBI plans to migrate from its IAFIS fingerprint database to a new biometrics system that will include DNA records, 3-D facial imaging, palm prints and voice scans that blows away fingerprinting.
TAMPA – The Federal Bureau of Investigation is expanding beyond its traditional fingerprint-focused collection practices to develop a new biometrics system that will include DNA records, 3-D facial imaging, palm prints and voice scans, blended to create what’s known as “multi-modal biometrics.”
“The FBI today is announcing a rapid DNA initiative,” said Louis Grever, executive assistant director of the FBI’s science and technology branch, during his keynote presentation at the Biometric Consortium Conference in Tampa.
The FBI plans to begin migrating from its IAFIS database, established in the mid-1990s to hold its vast fingerprint data, to a next-generation system that’s expected to be in prototype early next year. This multi-modal NGI biometrics database system will hold DNA records and more.
Chief constables across England and Wales have been told to ignore a landmark ruling by the European court of human rights and carry on adding the DNA profiles of tens of thousands of innocent people to a national DNA database.
Senior police officers have also been “strongly advised” that it is “vitally important” that they resist individual requests based on the Strasbourg ruling to remove DNA profiles from the national database in cases such as wrongful arrest, mistaken identity, or where no crime has been committed.
European human rights judges ruled last December in the S and Marper case that the blanket and indiscriminate retention of the DNA profiles and fingerprints of 850,000 people arrested but never convicted of any offence amounts to an unlawful breach of their rights.
Britain already has the largest police national DNA database in the world, with 5.8m profiles, including one in three of all young black males. Thousands more are being added each week.
So far the Home Office has responded to the judgment by proposing a controversial package to keep DNA profiles of the innocent, depending on the seriousness of the offence. The official consultation period ended today. for six to 12 years
Jacqui Smith’s new plans erode principles of innocent until proven guilty to create a New Labour-style third way: innocentish
It is perhaps ironic that the home secretary should seem so hellbent on collecting the nation’s DNA while still reeling from the embarrassment of her husband‘s presumed attempts to spill his at the taxpayer’s expense. If it is irony then it is doubly so, as Smith is the minister charged with upholding the rule of law yet has such utter contempt for it and its principles. The EU court ruling stated very clearly that the DNA profiles and samples of the 850,000 innocent people currently on the database should be removed.
Smith’s response is to leave them on the DNA database for between six and 12 years. At best this is a childish kind of belligerent foot-dragging and at worst it is plain illegal. What is certain is that campaigners will challenge this, and once again Smith will be hauled into court.
The continued inclusion of innocent people‘s DNA on the database throws up several concerns. At a most basic level it flies in the face of our most natural notions of fairness. Why should some have their DNA profiles among the guilty and others not. The only reason provided so far is chance, a chance encounter with the police.
Secondly, Smith’s new regime leaves the innocent who have been cleared of charges of minor, non-violent crime on the database for six years, which erodes the principle of innocent until proven guilty and in classic New Labour fashion creates a third way, neither innocent or guilty but innocentish.